Developmental Trends: Language Skills at Different Age Levels (page 2)
What You Might Observe:
- Interest in listening to the human voice and in exchanging vocalizations with adults
- Repetition of vowel sounds (cooing) at age 1–2 months and consonant-vowel syllables (babbling) at about 6 months
- Understanding of some common words at about 8 months
- Use of single words at about 12 months
- Use of two-word combinations at about 18 months
- Rapid increase in vocabulary in the second year
- In the latter half of the first year, babbling increasingly reflects phonemes of the native language.
- Temperament may influence the development of expressive language; more cautious children may wait a bit before beginning to speak.
- Chronic ear infections can interfere with early language development.
- Infants with severe hearing impairments babble, but the quality of their babbling changes little over time. Spoken language progresses no further unless intensive training is provided.
- Engage young infants in “conversations,” using simplified and animated speech (i.e., infant-directed speech) and responding when they vocalize.
- Label and describe the objects and events children encounter.
- Teach simple hand signs that preverbal infants can use to communicate.
- Ask simple questions (e.g., “Is your diaper wet?” “What does a cow say?”).
- Repeat and expand on children’s early “sentences” (e.g., follow “Kitty eat” with “Yes, the kitty is eating”).
Early Childhood (2–6)
What You Might Observe:
- Rapid advances in vocabulary and syntax
- Incomplete understandings of many simple words (e.g., undergeneralization, overgeneralization, confusion between simple comparatives such as more vs. less)
- Overregularization (e.g., foots, gooder, goed)
- Overdependence on word order and context (instead of syntax) when interpreting messages
- Superficial understanding of what “good listening” is
- Difficulty pronouncing some phonemes and blends (e.g., r, th, sl, dr)
- Increasing ability to construct narratives
- Children raised in bilingual environments may show slight delays in language development, but any delays are short-lived and usually not a cause for concern.
- Major speech and communication disorders (e.g., abnormal syntactic constructions) reveal themselves in the preschool years.
- Read age-appropriate storybooks as a way of enhancing vocabulary.
- Give children corrective feedback when their use of words indicates inaccurate understanding.
- Work on simple listening skills (e.g., sitting quietly, paying attention).
- Ask follow-up questions to make sure that children accurately understand important messages.
- Ask children to construct narratives about recent events (e.g., “Tell me about your camping trip last weekend”).
Middle Childhood (6–10)
What You Might Observe:
- Increasing understanding of temporal words (e.g., before, after) and comparatives (e.g., bigger, as big as)
- Incomplete knowledge of irregular word forms
- Literal interpretation of messages (especially before age 9)
- Pronunciation mastered by age 8
- Consideration of a listener’s knowledge and perspective when speaking
- Sustained conversations about concrete topics
- Construction of narratives with plots and cause-effect relationships
- Linguistic creativity and wordplay (e.g., rhymes, word games)
- Some minor speech and communication disorders (e.g., persistent articulation problems) become evident and can be addressed by specialists.
- African Americans often show advanced ability to use figurative language (e.g., metaphor, hyperbole).
- Bilingual children are apt to show advanced metalinguistic awareness.
- Teach irregular word forms (e.g., the superlative form of bad is worst, the past tense of bring is brought).
- Use group discussions as a way to explore academic subject matter.
- Have children develop short stories that they present orally or in writing.
- Encourage jokes and rhymes that capitalize on double meanings and homonyms (sound-alike words).
- When articulation problems are evident in the upper elementary grades, consult with a speech-language pathologist.
© ______ 2007, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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